The Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI), or the Eastern Busway as AT now call it, has rightfully been listed as one of Auckland’s highest priority projects for around a decade. It was listed as the second most important transport project in the region in the 30-year Auckland Plan and has been one of the top items in every local and central government transport plan or policy since, including recent election promises.

It’s a high priority for good reasons. Eastern Auckland is one of the most public transport deprived areas of Auckland. Consequently, it has high levels of auto-dependency and congestion, which is what the project is intended to help address.

Despite this high priority, progress has seemed glacial. It’s especially dismal when compared other projects such as the East-West Link. That was a project that wasn’t even considered a priority on earlier drafts of the Auckland Plan. Yet since 2012 has it has been through numerous planning iterations, including completely changing it’s proposed location (from Mangere) and is on the verge of obtaining consent. AMETI on the other hand has only had its first stage completed (the upgraded Panmure Station and parallel Te Horeta Rd), and that was almost 4 years ago.

Earlier this year Auckland Transport finally lodged a consent for the actual busway, including a new bridge across the Tamaki River, giving us hope there would finally be action on this critical project. Submissions closed in March, however AT have just announced that they’ve reopened notification for some specific properties.

Auckland Council recently accepted a request from Auckland Transport to open a period of re-notification as part of the Notice of Requirement application and specific re-engagement with owners and occupants along Mountain Road, Forge Way and Monaco Place in Panmure. The reason for this request is that recently updated traffic modelling has provided additional detail regarding a potential traffic effect in the vicinity of this area.

In an email to me, they provided this further information

Auckland Transport considers the effect on traffic in the vicinity of Mountain Road (as shown in the new data) as manageable however because this is new information, we feel the community should have the opportunity to review it.

The previous traffic data for this area was for gathered in 2010 and the changes in the data collected in 2017 are attributed to the effects of unexpected levels of population growth. As traffic modelling is an ongoing process, Auckland Transport have reviewed all additional traffic data and the general effects are similar to those presented to the public as part of the original notification process.

The process to re-notify EB1 Panmure to Pakuranga stage will provide an opportunity for local residents, businesses and stakeholders to make submissions based on this new specific information. We believe that this is the best decision for the project and reaffirms our commitment to working cooperatively and collaboratively with the community. The timings for the overall AMETI Eastern Busway programme will not be impacted by this process (pending a final decision of course).

Next steps:
Pending more detailed discussions with Auckland Council, the process will involve:

  • Auckland Council rolling out a revised notification process for this stage of the project. All those who previously submitted and affected parties will be informed as part of this process, information will be communicated through public notices and on the Auckland Council website. Submissions close on 1 November
  • Auckland Transport proactively engaging and gathering feedback with directly affected stakeholders in vicinity of Mountain Road. This consultation programme will commence in October
  • Holding the independent hearing in late 2017 / early 2018
  • A decision being made in early 2018 (as opposed to late 2017)

In some ways this highlights the delays with the project perfectly in that they originally collected data for it at least 7 years ago. But more importantly, why is it taking so long to get progress with this project. Had it treated to the same timetable as other, similarly sized projects like the East-West Link or the Northern Corridor improvements, it would likely have had consent issued years ago. Is this happening because it’s Auckland Transport running the project compared to the NZTA with those other big projects? Do we perhaps need to reconsider how we deliver our large strategic PT projects?

I’ve suggested before that perhaps all strategic transport projects should be implemented by a separate agency, likely the NZTA. They’ve already got a few on their list with them taking over the NW Busway and leading the charge on the proposed busway along SH20B to Puhinui.

Alternatively, perhaps AT just think they don’t need to rush. The unfortunate reality of AMETI is that it can’t really open too much before the CRL is completed because there’s simply not the capacity on the rail network to absorb the amount of use the eastern busway would generate.

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  1. This project is painful. I get that AT are cash strapped and they have had to wait and wait and wait on this to get every scrap of money to push it to the next stage. But this is ridiculous, It would have saved a fortune to have just consented it straight away and then the government could have been forced to commit to opening it at the same time as the CRL.

    1. Agree that the real issue here is one of $$$. The point you raise about “forcing” the government’s hand is the nub of the problem. AC and AT are caught in the bind with two principal choices: Either to play along with government, cooperate and extract whatever funds they can from a government which is worse than miserly when it comes to PT funding. Or to challenge, criticise publicly and raise the stakes with a level of conflict that would be unprecedented in recent times.

      The risk with the latter strategy is of course that it would backfire – and that a cynical public might support central government rather than AC and AT. And at the same time central government’s attitude against PT might harden further. Who can really predict?

      On a day to day basis AT is seriously dependent on NZTA’s largesse in funding 50%ish of many projects but has no guarantee of any fixed allocation of these funds – they could just as easily be allocated to Tauranga or Wellington as Auckland. I could see that might appeal to Simon Bridges.

      So far AC and AT have chosen to play the “safe” game and, to be fair, with a little (just) success – the CRL being funded “early” is evidence of this. You’d be a brave person to make a choice as to whether this would be the best strategy long term or whether a more confrontational approach would reap greater rewards.

      My instinct is that confronting a player with vastly more power than yourself is usually doomed to failure. Easier to change the government (soon . . . ?) than for David to slay Goliath. And unless you are 100% sure of public support in your quest then it might also lead to your own demise.

      1. Yes, and AC is scared of the media, too, and knows it won’t get public support if the media (who support the status quo of roads and big business) has anything to do with it.

      2. Didn’t National say they were going to fund this (or part of it anyway)? They could introduce target rates for people living in the area to help raise money. I guess this is more reason to keep that short term transport levy – this is a priority project.

        I think just build the busway and not trying to go for broke and change it to LRT at this stage. If we can not afford a busway how can we pay for LR?

        1. The only mention of AMETI in National’s Policy statement is: “Work with Auckland Council to accelerate the AMETI Eastern Busway and associated Reeves Road flyover.” Not exactly pinning themselves down to a timeline, would you say?

    2. AT are cash strapped?

      Last FY they got $1.37bn in income

      This is literally *20* times the budget allocated to library services


        1. Maybe our defence and policing needs have gone down relative to the health needs of an ageing population? Certainly we need to put our health budget into the most cost-effective areas. We need a Pharmac-style decision process for other health services, perhaps?

      1. Good point, because the cost of building and running all the streets, roads, footpaths, bus routes, trains, ferries and cycleways is exactly the same as keeping the libraries open.

      2. We certainly need higher rates. But what changes are required to get AT to put their transport budget into PT, as per the pretty pictures on my rates bill?

  2. The Ellerslie – Panmure section on the map is interesting. Is there any chance we might ever see (I hope so) the Eastern busway extended along the middle of the Ellerslie – Panmure highway like is currently proposed for Te Rakau Drive? Also we need to start planning for this westward extension of the Eastern busway ASAP

    1. An interesting question. I guess that eventually that link would be required, however the question becomes one of use – The route from Pakuranga to Panmure is most likely to have many more patrons than Penrose to Panmure. Couple to that the existing bus routes that meander between Panmure and Ellerslie, I do wonder if there’s enough patrons to justify the cost.

      Personally I’d rather see a protected cycleway between Ellerslie and Panmure than a dedicated busway. That’s only because without research to hand, I’d imagine the existing bus service would be capable of meeting demand. Mind you, considering that there are double-deckers running from town, through Ellerslie to the Eastern ‘burbs – Perhaps we need to investigate why that is (people not being multi-modal, or lack of connections between modes, or something else entirely).

      1. “The route from Pakuranga to Panmure is most likely to have many more patrons than Penrose to Panmure.” Care to defend this assertion?

        1. Sure…

          Pakuranga to Panmure includes Howick and other eastern burbs. Most people work in the vicinity of the North Shore, CBD, Airport, South of the airport. Whilst Panmure is also a major employment centre, it’s also one that is easier to get to from any direction other than the direct east via routes that don’t traverse the EP Hwy. Even via Sylvia Park/SE Hwy is easier than EP. Basically, any route that serves Onehunga from the east/south would also serve Panmure.

          I’d be more than happy for somebody to dig out the passenger reports and disprove me, however I’m not going to go to the effort myself. 🙂

      2. I commute on this route daily. My route the 550 to Howick is changing in December and will be terminating at Panmure. I will then either need to transfer to the 501 from Botany which is staying through all the way into the top of the city by Grafton bridge or catch a train and then a link bus to the top of Queen st. One change in the first case or two in the second. The journey at present takes 45 mins to 1 hour 50 (worse case) at peak. I really don’t want to spend additional time waiting for additional buses or trains to be multi modal. That could mean three hours travel time potentially. At peak times the single deckers are standng room only some times all the way to Pakuranga from the city. Even the double deckers are the same on busy days. On some occasions the bus has not stopped at Panmure on the way to Howick to pick up train passengers as it was still full. This has been the case on the route into town also.

        1. That sounds more like a capacity issue than a transfer issue. Also I catch buses along the EP Highway between Ellerslie and Panmure during the peak and have never seen a full bus and I only occasionally have to stand.

        2. Honest question, how long is the duration to Panmure?

          I’d have thought that catching the train would’ve provided a good time saving… The journey planner suggests that from Panmure the train is only 20m into town, surely The Link isn’t that bad at rush hour? The journey planner also said that the bus would take about 40m to get to K’rd/Queen St. Incidentally, I set the planner to depart after 07:30.

        3. “That could mean three hours travel time potentially.”

          That’s utter bullshit. You may well have some travel time increase. But this bald faced lie does no favours to your argument.

          Three hours means the trip takes an hour and ten minutes longer. Let’s assume that you choose the option of a train to Britomart and a bus to Symonds Street (Mt Eden Road bus). The train and bus both run every ten minutes, and the total running time is twenty minutes on the train and ten on the bus. In the worst case it takes you 50 minutes to get from Pakuranga to work.

          In order for you three hour line to be true, your current inbound bus would have to arrive at your work at least twenty minutes before it arrived at Pakuranga..

        4. At the times I travel the journey from Howick to top of Symonds st at Grafton Bridge is between 48 minutes to 1 hour 10, it is similar on way home. On one occasion it was 1 hour 50 mins into town due to grid lock on the motorway. I can wait in town until off peak and it will be 35-40 mins but sometimes that is not possible. So allow 1 hour 10 each was as not unusual. Thats 2 hours 20. If I catch Botany bus from Panmure after Dec 10 assuming the schedules are compatible it will take me no longer. If the Howick bus is delayed I may need to wait 10-20 mins. Potentially this could happen in either or both directions so we are up to 3 hours. There have been times when the scheduled bus simply hasn’ shown up. If I take the train, yes it will be quicker, but what is the wait time. I usually wait 15 mins after I get off the bus at Panmure sometimes more. I will then also have to wait for a link or other bus in town to get to upper queen st which I can get to at present with a single journey. So another wait both ways. Also what is the impact on the cost of the journey from the transfers? I enjoy my PT journey, but to say they everyone should be happy to have a service change when there is a downside and not comment on it is ridiculous. I’ll leave it up to the other readers to spot the Bullshit in this case. Buses are routinely standing room only on this route. especially at peak.

        5. Why would you be waiting 15-20 mins at Panmure? The bus servicing Howick will be starting it’s trip at Panmure having arrived counter peak from Howick, it is unlikely to be significantly delayed during the evening peak.

        6. Alan, I’ve appreciated your information. I guess you didn’t herald that the three hours was a return journey time and this probably led to confusion and rudeness.

          We do need to look at the downsides of a network approach and it’s details like yours that help the analysis. I’m interested to know whether people from Howick going to other places (Unitec, Mangere, Parnell or Blockhouse Bay, for example) will be better or worse off.

        7. That wont be a problem outward bound as you say. Main issue is wait to catch train on inward journey or connecting with the Botany bus which is continuing in to Town from Panmure. I’m hopeful that the impact will be minor. The problem is the train puts me at the wrong end of the CBD until CRL is complete. There will still be 550x expresses using the full route (or the equivalent) but they will only run at peak (less trips per day than now from the proposal?) and I image they will be crammed. Its not uncommon to hear on the driver radio jobs being skipped because buses haven’t arrived on time and that has a roll on effect. So potentially synchronized services that look good on paper may not work in practice.

    1. Yes. What effect would this have on the notification and consenting process? I’d personally think LR outside my place would cause less disruption than buses…

      1. Yes, but you’re significantly more informed than your average citizen.

        The average citizen would be more likely to see LR as big slow heritage trams or massive HR train sets, with massive amounts of earthworks and concrete. I don’t think the council/AT has done anywhere near the amount of public education to even dream of that sensible suggestion yet.

    2. This seems impossible to get started and it’s buses, a kind of vehicle the government apparently approves of, can you imagine what the timeline would be for something with steel wheels?! 2070, possibly? Anyway the right of way is the vital thing, the vehicle type is secondary, and upgradeable.

    3. I second this, a LRT connecting Panmure/Pakuranga Rd connected up to a futureBotany/Flat Bush/Manukau network would be great.

    4. It would still have to be able to handle buses on the Pakuranga to Panmure section of the route as there are a total of six different bus routes running on this section. Not sure it is the best use of funds installing light rail when a significant number of passengers will still be in a bus anyway.

        1. Why would someone catching route 712 from Bucklands Beach jump onto LR at Pakuranga when it will follow exactly the same route as their bus with the same speed limit through to Panmure?

        2. I can’t see why given they would be on the same route. LR might get some signal priority but given it is only a 2km stretch I doubt the difference would be enough for someone to bother transferring.

        3. I would imagine that if we built LRT to Howick and Botany we wouldn’t run any buses on the Panmure Bridges. You would also redesign the network for this so that the route that services Bucklands Beach would travel almost straight to Botany for a transfer on either LRT service.

        4. Just to piss you off Jezza with all your negativity, let’s build a LRT bridge across from Bucklands Beach over towards Glendowie, so it can eventually run along St Heliers and Mission Bay, eventually joining up at Judges Bay to to my other Devonport/Takapuna LRT.


        5. That’s probably true if both routes are made LR but that is another leap from making the Eastern Busway route LR. Even then it requires a three seat ride to the CBD from parts of the east.

          I don’t know the exact principles of the New Network, but I would have thought two seat ride to the CBD would be one, with three to four seat journeys for less common trips.

        6. Sorry, not intending to be negative, just giving my reasoning why this route is possibly better suited to being a busway rather than LR.

          If it runs into capacity issues then it may require an upgrade, although I suspect the HR network operators might be starting to sweat if that happens!

        7. Instead of parallel bridge for buses beside the existing Panmure road bridge , elevated light rail between the area of Pakuranga Mall and a bridge from Kerswill Place to Queens Drive. Would save several houses and could include a bike lane. During peak hours this elevated route would be much faster than putting more buses into already congested roads..
          Light rail is the best solution for any increase in public transit along this route.. Adding more buses is not too smart.

        8. Yes Kerswill to Queens Rd is a good idea – I’d rather the people in charge spent the money now instead of pissing around in a few decades time.
          How about just outright close off Panmure Bridge to private motor vehicles during peak hours, like they do with Grafton Bridge?

        9. Lloyd – that sounds like a lot of money to give some extra speed only to likely loose that speed by taking the route through the middle of Panmure town centre. Also not sure the residents of Kerswill Place or Queens Rd would be that keen on elevated LR running down their street.

        10. Lloyd, do you like the look of elevated light rail? I think it’s as ugly as elevated roadways. Surely we can do better? I agree that light rail will be the solution, but I also see Patrick’s point that we should get the corridor now, and change to light rail in time.

          “putting more buses into already congested roads..” – the key here is reallocating road space. The cars are there because the road space is there. As I see it, increasing access to the city for people (not cars) goes hand-in-hand with reducing the number of cars on the roads (and all their pollution, carbon emissions, accident rates, poor health outcomes and social disconnection). Adding capacity by building elevated LR looks at it from the access point of view only, and misses the opportunity to also reduce the problem of cars.

        11. Let’s get the busway done first, I’d love LRT but too many other issues as discussed including delaying the project big time once again (which is the real topic of this post). Other big factor is the opportunity cost to other projects. Probably best to build the Southern airport LRT line to Botany first, then extend things to Panmure/City then. Of course we need Northern airport line (city-Dominion Rd-airport) done before than even.

  3. I am disappointed with Mayor Goff who had a policy of reducing council costs and was critical of the previous mayor and large salaries paid.
    But a report in today’s herald shows the total wage bill increased from $811 million to $853 million and 2322 now earn more than $100 000.
    I am not sure what daily things some of those people do that is so challenging and requires a high skill level.

    1. Apparently a lot of new and high paid employees are CRL engineers or new divisions of the port. Core council wages has decreased. Never believe anything you read in the Herald

    2. Also the article doesn’t mention that these rates are still not equivalent to what these employees can get in the Auckland Private Sector. Unfortunately this also normally means you cannot attract the best talent for these positions.

      I’m surprised Auckland Council have been able to retain some quality talent with these low (in comparison to private sector) pay rates.

      For an example, as a qualified civil engineer of 10years experience, in the private sector I would expect upwards of $120k. In Auckland Council I would get upwards of $80k. Although I wouldn’t be doing private sector 60-80hr weeks. I’m not sure what they are paying engineers involved in CRL, but to attract anyone with enough experience you would need to be over $100k.

  4. I expected that the new council, with good management, could have reduced its spending by $100 million a year or more. Any government will be reluctant to pay for Auckland projects if Auckland council itself is not really serious about PT, new waste water pipes, a new stadium etc.

  5. Waiting for the CRL to open is not a prerequisite for this project:

    1) there will be more seats on all lines with the next tranche of trains (all six car sets at peaks), and there is the option to increase frequencies on shoulders and off-peak (with budget).
    2) The frequency/capacity increase the CRL provides to Panmure simply allows more buses from the east to terminate at Panmure, as more passengers are incentivised to transfer there, if there are capacity constraints for transfers at Panmure then more buses will continue to complete the journey to the city. This can be managed.

    AKL’s Rapid Transport network is so patchy that it needs continuous development everywhere, and there are interdependencies all across the system that must be creatively managed. To wait for every other part of the jigsaw to be complete before placing another piece is simply not possible.

    Anyway construction will take time, and ridership will also build over time, probably at a similar rate to that of the Northern Busway when it opened. Remember initially the NB began with no bus priority on the last leg to the city (Fanshawe), that came later.

    As Matt notes above this is an area deeply stuck in auto-dependency, and trial and discovery of new options happens organically in these circumstances.

    Build it and they will certainly come, but not all on the first day.

    1. With your second point, I agree with the premise that passengers should be incentivised to transfer, however I think that if some buses terminate and others proceed… That would be damaging to uptake and customer acceptance. I’m not disagreeing that we may well need to do mixed terminations, only that if one route terminates and another doesn’t, the one that runs through would need to be significantly slower (for the majority of passenger journeys) to mitigate the inconvenience (transferring) of the other service. In an area used to auto dependency, it wouldn’t take much of a bitter taste in ones mouth to give up on PT.

      Like you say, this could be managed however it’s not necessarily a trivial thing to manage.

      1. It’s happening from 10th December. Buses from Howick will terminate at Panmure, while buses from Botany will continue to the CBD.

        I can see the logic, but ss an EP Highway resident, I’m not looking forward to the reduction in frequency.

        1. You will be getting an increase in frequency, not a decrease. Right now the real time board is showing several scheduled arrivals more than ten minutes apart. That won’t happen with the new network where the timetable will be clockface at ten minute intervals all day and 8 minutes at most in peak.

        2. I was mainly thinking of the peak period, currently there are probably 3 buses every 10 mins scheduled, which means even with the inevitable bunching 5-6 mins is typically the biggest wait at Ellerslie. My concern is with even 5 min peak frequency the bunching could mean a 10 minute wait.

          I of course could be wrong as I haven’t seen a timetable yet so they may be planning 3 min frequency at peak on the #70 route.

        3. Disappointing, looks like we get 8 minute frequencies at peak now, a significant reduction in what we have now – about 3 buses every 10 mins. With the bunching that occurs it wouldn’t surprise me if 15-20 minute gaps between buses become quite common, which will render them useless as a transfer service for trains at Ellerslie.

        4. Looks like some additional (though only 2 services?!) buses will depart from Ellerslie at 7:18 & 8:15am which would help a tiny with with bunching there.

          Edit: Oh i c, you need to catch a bus on the E P Highway to Ellerslie.

        1. Yes and no. 🙂

          If you’ve done your research, or have tried transfers before, then yes it’s pretty obvious.

          If you’re not used to transfers, the frustration and confusion borne from the change is something that needs to be allowed for. How a person responds to a change in bus routing is not that far removed to workplace changes such as restructures or changes in software or process. There’s always going to be that push back. I base my opinion on how I’ve seen people respond to change, over hundreds of changes over my working career (former IT worker). As a supporter of PT, I feel that experience necessitates that we acknowledge and manage this. It’s not about wrapping people in cotton wool, it’s about ensuring that we educate customers (PT users) about what the changes are, why the changes are being made and how it affects the PT users.

          Looking at this a different way, the issue is that some will think that the delays introduced by waiting for a train (or another bus) is the straw that breaks the camels back. Others will ask themselves how fast each option is (carry through or transfer), which is why I said that the single vehicle trip needs to be slower than the transfer (otherwise, why would they transfer?).

        2. Yes, we should allow for the frustration, by clearly advertising the changes and some alternatives. We shouldn’t scuttle the whole bus network because a small number of existing passengers will face adverse effects.

        3. You’re only considering the 10% of Aucklanders that currently use the system and might have to adapt. What about the 90% of the market that is currently untapped and might be attracted to faster, more reliable trips with less waiting time?

    2. The problem with that is that there may well be capacity during the peak on trains leaving Panmure for Britomart, however they may end up being so full there is no room for passengers boarding at GI, Meadowbank and Orakei.

  6. I don’t know how to find traffic modelling reports on AT’s website – can anyone point me in the right direction? I’d love to see how they work out the traffic effects if they believe, as NZTA do, that new infrastructure doesn’t create new trips. Maybe busways don’t need that myth applied…

  7. It’s obviously too late now but I think the investment in heavy rail has been a mistake. Had they ripped it all up and replaced with light rail then this line could be direct light rail to the city. the CRL would have cost a lot less with light rail capable of better gradients. Dominion road light rail could hook in at mt Eden instead of going down queen. So much more would be possible.

      1. Why would we need a four track tunnel, or have less redundancy? I was under the impression that there was no _substantial_ difference in passenger capacity between HR and LR…

        1. Jon if every new Rapid Transit line is sent through the CRL it will quickly run out of track capacity, whatever the vehicle, and by definition, it will mean less redundancy to only have one system and one route (single point of vulnerability).

          Anyway it is also much better for coverage reasons not to have all lines leading down one massive tunnel but to add each next tranche of capacity on a new route: More of the city gets access to the system and over time a city-wide network is built.

          CRL is great for the current rail network. Next additions need to be additional to the CRL, not subtractive of its capacity.

          On the Prague Metro wiki page is a good little gif showing the gradual expansion of that system over time, that’s how cities build their permanent networks, by accretion, having set a vision, then a strategy to implement, and doggedly pursuing it over decades…

        2. This is more to JimboJones than yourself, however I’m replying to you because you mentioned the CRL specifically.

          Your 4-track CRL and reply to myself is suggestive of running all lines via the CRL, to which I say why? Why would the trains need to run from Dom to the CRL? Why not have LR and keep the current and proposed networks? There’s no obvious reason why you _need_ to connect all the lines together.

          Auckland would be far from unique in having interchange stations, which would easily allow the lines to run separately. Singapore has interchange stations where calling it such is a bit of a stretch, considering a walk of well over a hundred meters between lines, unlike HK or London. Auckland already has a similar concept to the Singapore interpretation of interchange (obviously, examples like Panmure exempted) in Britomart and to a lesser extent Newmarket (with it’s historic lack of cross-platform transfers). The CRL + LR proposal is no different to the Singapore interpretation.

          I agree wholeheartedly that LR on Queen is a positive but suggest that perhaps you may have been a little quick to suggest a 4 track CRL, when separating the lines is not an issue – As is the current proposal.

          I also agree that if we _had_ replaced HR with LR (freight, what’s that?) we’d have an easier time swapping trains between lines (at the appropriate locations).

          To be perfectly clear, my original comment was from the perspective of the current CRL + LR proposal going ahead, with proposed running of separate networks – But with the HR magically being replaced by LR and ignoring the impact of freight or long distance passenger (if any).


        3. Jon I am just pointing out that the CRL does not have limitless capacity; the more lines that are directed there the lower the frequency will have to be on those lines. And furthermore that it is not ideal to send every Transit user to the same place, better to give users more choice. The CRL will be the backbone but it should not ever be a singularity. The ideal for a city, and especially one of AKL’s pattern, is a network of lines, and these can be of various technologies, and happily that’s what is planned.

        4. Chris yes that is on the classic Russian model: their long standing ideal is, for a minimum effective network, to build a 3-line system that meets in the centre not at one ‘Central’ station, but creates a central sub-network in the shape of a triangle by each line connecting with the other two in turn.

          This creates a highly effective connective network, while avoiding the expense and passenger congestion issues of one massively over-dominant central station, and spreads the access across the central core.

          And I suggest increases resilience. No single obvious terrorist target for example, or less dramatically, no one point of failure for the whole system.

          Here for example is the plan for the Yekaterinburg Metro, of which I believe only one line has been built, but this intention is plain to see:

        5. The CFN2 is more curvy than this, isn’t it? For the lines that come into the CBD, they don’t go straight through but go back out in a sometimes somewhat similar direction. Straighter lines would be Waimauku to Botany, Howick to Swanson and Takapuna to Flatbush. There must be a general reduction in transfers required if they are as straight as possible. Are these not in the design because of which lines are likely to become LR and which are likely to remain bus routes for a long time?

      2. Patrick I’m not going to pretend I know what I’m talking about – but wouldn’t 4 line cut and cover be a lot cheaper? I don’t see that having the two modes offers much redundancy.
        I’m not sure if there would still be room for heavy rail for freight. Maybe southern line could remain heavy rail terminating at britomart.
        Light rail an queen is nice but slow.

        1. Bored tunnels are actually cheaper than cut and cover. The cost comes from mined stations, but we only have one.

        2. @ JimboJones – I’ll assume that you got the price right… Different ground conditions are better or worse suited to different tunneling technologies.

          Even if we forego calculating the required depth of LR vs HR tunnels under K-Pass (that’s the deepest, isn’t it?), we’d still have to consider the cost of cutting through massive amounts of basalt (cut and cover) vs grinding it away (TBM).

          The other thing to consider, the longer the tunnel, the less the relative cost of tunnel boring machines versus drill and blast methods. This is because tunneling with TBMs is much more efficient and results in shortened completion times, assuming they operate successfully. Heh heh, assuming…

        3. @Jimbo, I don’t know. It may be. But phase 1 is a 700m tunnel on a 3.4km route. And I think it is a little unfair to only consider the cost to dig the trench and lumps all of the following activities in with the bored section:
          Build two underground stations,
          Completely reconfigure Britomart,
          Track modification at Britomart,
          New station at Mt Eden,
          Flying Junction at Mt Eden,
          New Rolling Stock.

          And as Jon said, I think that Albert Street in Sandstone and most of the bored section is Basalt.

        4. The bored tubes are actually only a few hundred million themselves, if I remember correctly. It’s the stations, junctions and all the ancilliary works that add the cost.

          I believe someone said that Aotea and Karangahape stations along accounted for half the budget of the whole project.

        5. @jimbojones as mentioned by others different ground conditions affects price, but there is also the disruption factor which has a cost figure attached. Bored tunnels have less disruption to properties and roading reserve. The biggest factor however would be the depth, the tunnels are increasingly getting deeper as they go towards k-road (this makes cut and cover extremely expensive), but has less affect on a bored tunnel. On either method the station cost will be expensive at that depth.

          The lower section is not as deep. Also cut and cover makes it easier to build for buoyancy of the tunnels in this section (due to the water table the tunnels would need to be designed with piles or other methods to stop them literally floating up. This can be done with bored tunnels, but at this depth it would be easier/cheaper with cut and cover I’d imagine.

      3. The problem with our heavy rail is that it’s almost impossible to extend without spending a fortune. So we are ending up with busways and light rail that are either duplicating access to the city or forcing transfers. Transfers are fine in big cities where trains come every two minutes, but waiting 5 to 10 minutes is enough to put a lot of people off. Don’t you think direct light rail from pakuranga to city would be a lot more attractive than Diesel bus then train? Or airport to city via cheaply double tracked onehunga line? Or light rail from pakuranga to airport via elerslie panmure and onehunga line? There would be so many more possibilities.

        1. It is what it is, though. HR has advantages too, and we have it. So many things to look back at and regret… like motorway expansion. No point in regretting HR; it was started too long ago. And the CRL should have been built in the early 1900s as first proposed and it wouldn’t be up for criticism now.

          Transfers are fine because they enable a network to operate. They aren’t ideal when frequencies aren’t good, but until frequencies are good, nothing is perfect. Certainly A to B routes won’t serve as many people as a network with transfers can. It will all improve with time.

        2. I think it does show the value in thinking outside the box though. It wasn’t that long ago we committed to heavy rail by electrifying and buying new trains. I doubt anyone even contemplated other options. Maybe heavy rail was the best option, let’s hope so.

        3. I believe thinking outside the box is the only way to live. Particularly if you can chuckle subversively from time to time and have some chocolate to sweeten it all.

        4. Jimbo — this is all a bit redundant and also seems to miss the ability for HR to carry freight and regional services. I personally think a mix of technologies is not only understandable but perhaps ideal.

        5. Stu, i don’t agree that it is too late to consider the options. The CRL study was done what 10 years ago. Since then light rail technology and acceptance has changed and Auckland’s PT needs have changed. Maybe there are other options now. Maybe terminate the southern line at Aotea and convert western and eastern to surface light rail down Albert street or similar. Wouldn’t that achieve most of the benefits of the crl but provide so many more light rail opportunities? Maybe its a terrible idea, do you know for sure?

        6. I don’t see much value here.
          1) freight services use both western and eastern lines
          2) you’d have to rebuild tracks and stations and electrification.
          3) thats before costs of extending lrt into suburban east Auckland.

          What’s wrong with our HR lines? It seems to me that the only benefit of what you’re proposing is to remove transfers at panmure.

          Lots of money for not much gain.

        7. Light rail could hook in at kingsland for sandringham road line and light rail version of western brt. Mt Eden road can hook in at Mt Eden station. Airport direct to Swanson via Avondale. Possibilities are almost endless.

        8. @ JimboJones. . .”I doubt anyone even contemplated other [non-HR] options.”

          Not true. In the late 1980’s International consultants Travers Morgan did a study on the replacement of Auckland’s heavy rail routes with light rail, while retaining access for freight. The cost would have been large and the implementation difficult, so the option to go for the much cheaper and quicker win of acquiring the 2nd-hand Perth diesel railcars won out. This decision rescued Auckland’s rail from near-oblivion and paved the way for the spectacular growth of heavy-rail since.

          Had the LR option been pursued back then, it may well have faltered at the funding stage leaving the decrepit historic rail service to quietly disappear. As it was, a parallel study done by an Australian consultancy, Pak-poy and Kneebone IIRC (subcontracted I believe by Travers Morgan) recommended that Auckland go all-bus and install O-Bahn guided busways on the rail corridors.

          I don’t know that many younger folk today realise quite how close Auckland came to losing its rail service altogether. Had this happened the likelihood of subsequently introducing a new-start LRT system into a city that had ceased to consider rail at all would have been remote. Chances are that by today, more roads would have been built, LRT would still be no more than talk, though Auckland might have a network of ageing O-Bahn busways similar to Adelaide’s.

        9. Indeed, when you combine the fact that the historic HR corridors were well located to serve the west and south (given those suburbs grew around the lines for the most part) and that the corridors were in use for freight and intercity already, the decision to slowly and iteratively upgrade them was the right one.

          First the DMUs, then Britomart, then suburban station upgrades, then double tracking, then building interchange stations, then electrification… and finally the CRL.

          The CRL makes a huge amount of sense by opening up the City Centre *and* matching capacity at the core of the network to the capacity on the feeder lines. It effectively finished the heavy rail system.

          The question is, once Auckland has finished its upgrade of the existing HR network what does it do next?
          Start building entirely new HR lines because the old lines are HR? Or build the new lines with whatever urban transit system suits the context best?

        10. Gosh, Dave. doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? I’m glad someone elbowed out the Kneebone and Pak-poy study.

        11. Dave – sometimes we get frustrated about the lack of progress on PT projects in Auckland, but maybe we need to reflect on the fact that sometimes it was a good thing we didn’t make any progress!

        12. I think that the acceptable delay is dependent on several factors, such as how viable driving is (all up, incl petrol, parking, time, etc) vs the delay.

          HK for example can have a delay of up to 12m on the Tsing Yi line (there’s a nice Yum Cha restaurant there), whereas more busy lines like Tsuen Wan are closer to 5 minutes. Source:

          My point: Whilst delays _can_ be a turn-off, even big cities have 5-10m delays with no impact on passenger numbers.

        13. Jimbo – the long term running pattern post CRL has three trains every 10 mins through Panmure, transfers won’t be an issue. Also it would only be a single seat ride for this approaching on LR from Botany, those on a bus from Howick would still need to transfer anyway.

        14. At peak? What about off peak? What about the time taken to walk between? But the main difference is that currently light rail doesn’t stack up in a business case. The only advantage it has over buses is that it is nicer. If it saved a 5 min transfer I’m sure it would stack up.

        15. I imagine 10 mins would be a long term off peak frequency but I suspect a one seat LR ride from Botany to the CBD would likely have a 15 min off peak frequency so not sure there would be much lost with a more frequent bus-train transfer.

          It’s all a moot point anyway as there is no way Kiwirail would have surrendered the Eastern line as it is too important for freight.

        16. Late night transfers at Panmure from trains to buses for Howick are a pain. The buses just are not always there. I am always getting called to pick up family members late in the evening because the next bus will be 20 mins.

        17. Lloyd it’s worth noting that light rail would require two transfers from the CBD for those that don’t live near a light rail line.

          Sounds like AT need to sort these transfers out in the late evening, it is vital when frequencies are low that connecting services consistently line up.

        18. I would have to say that the synchronization at Panmure for the City to Howick or Botany services is currently pretty good. At least for early evening buses. It will be interesting to see if this holds up after the dropping of the through service to and from Howick after December. I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised. One concern though is at the moment the bus can be completely filled by passengers coming off the train. If Howick users adopt this mode hopefully the bus capacity from Panmure will also be increased.

    1. I think this might be in response to my comment about lemons… 🙂 I learnt this year that a meyer lemon is half lemon, half orange. And a lemonade is quarter lemon, three quarters orange. Fascinating. But you probably knew that. So maybe making lemons from lemonade is not reversing entropy but reversing genetic breeding?

      In any case, the second law of thermodynamics can be reversed in Entropic Time:

      1. An Ode To Entropy

        As stated by the Second Law of Thermodynamics,
        Heat death will ensue for all organics,
        Chaos will rule when all order has ended,
        Unless this entropy problem can be mended

        1. If you’re interested in entropy, MFD, there’s a seminar coming up that will present the results of a five year studee into the sekend lw of thurmodynamiks aand itz inevibl fxt hon shewb rt nspln raq liot.

        2. It’s not so much a matter of me being interested in entropy, Heidi, as entropy being interested in me. As a concept I find it fascinating (in spite of having studied thermodynamics in some depth) but these days I spend my weekdays mitigating the practical effects of thereof.

          BTW you may want to ask Santa Clausius for a new keyboard…

    1. Well this chart shows how well rail and light rail insulate commuters from peak traffic – we should definitely try to go straight to light rail for this area, and others.

      In my view it’s the highest priority of the three large rail voids in our city, ahead of North Shore and M Roskill/Owairaka. All three are clearly in desperate need of rail service but this is the area with the poorer provision of public transport (near 2% usage) so it surely must come first.

      I’d want to have all three underway as soon as possible of course, and certainly well before thinking about the airport to be honest.

      1. It shows how a dedicated corridor insulates commuters from peak traffic. I imagine the Northern Busway would have a similar flat and consistent line just like the train has in the above graph.

        1. Yes. Until it hits the Bridge. But it is generally very consistent.

          You are right, it is more about the quality of the right of way than the kind of vehicle.

          Fight to the death for the RoW, compromise and trade over over the kind of machine…

  8. Sadly the government on which this project relies for financial support have no idea when it comes to financial matters. Months after Joyce found the supposed $12 billion dollar hole in Labour’s promises not a solitary NZer has been able to also find it despite some serious looking. The focus on very low value RoNS has stripped money from projects where there is a positive rate of economic return.
    The sad outcome for Aucklanders is that the under investment in public transport is financially disadvantaging everyone if a study by the Vienna public transport operator is credible. Their studies have showed that their extensive public transport network has left inhabitants up to six times better off with respect to transport spending. Citizens are abandoning their cars in surprising numbers.
    AT is delivering similarly poor outcomes. This site has focused on the Ronwood car park where the economic results must be appalling. All day parking can be had for only $6. However AT has not been discouraged and they have just proposed a similar carpark for central Takapuna. I suspect a reasonable estimate for the cost of this will be $30 million. Bizarrely AT can only currently achieve daily parking rates of $5 per day on the proposed site. Compare this with $14 for the nearest comparable public car parks. It’s another financial disaster in the making!
    Let’s hope for a new government that will drag us out of the 1970’s.

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